Our Favorite Images Of Pluto — So Far

Published October 17, 2015
Updated October 23, 2019

Images from the New Horizons spacecraft continue to astound scientists and space enthusiasts alike. Here are our favorite Pluto pictures.

Pluto Pictures

Pluto mosaic made from New Horizons LORRI images taken 14 July 2015 from a distance of 80,000 km. Image Source: NASA

The dwarf planet is packing some serious beauty.

Photos emerging from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft continue to amaze scientists and space enthusiasts alike, revealing more details on our solar system’s itty-bitty misfit.

If you are so inclined, you can read an evaluation of the expedition’s initial scientific results, just released this month, here.

Instead of posting them individually, we’ve aggregated our favorite photos to have been downlinked from New Horizons so far. Enjoy:

Pluto Images Heart
The Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) took blue, red and infrared images of the little planet. In this photo, these images are combined to reveal Pluto's brilliant "heart."

Pluto Images True Color
Four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this sharper global view of Pluto, writes NASA.

Pluto Images Color Variations
The same image, now enhanced with even more color data.

Pluto Images Charon Pluto
A composite of enhanced color images of Pluto and Charon, taken by the New Horizons spacecraft as it passed through the Pluto system. Their true separation is not to scale.

Pluto Images Charon
Taken in July 2014, the New Horizons spacecraft captured a high-resolution enhanced color view of Charon, one of Pluto's moons.

Pluto Images Blue Sky
MVIC images reveal a blue haze layer, thought to be similar in nature to what's seen in Titan, Saturn's moon.

Pluto Images Backlit
When backlit by the sun, Pluto's atmosphere resembles a halo.

Pluto Images Haze Layers
Two versions of Pluto's haze layers. According to NASA, he left version has had only minor processing, while the right version has been specially processed to reveal a large number of discrete haze layers in the atmosphere.

Pluto Images High Res
One of the most recent high-resolution images from the New Horizons spacecraft. According to NASA, this view shows what you would see if you were approximately 1,100 miles above Pluto’s equatorial area. The dark, cratered region toward the bottom of the image is informally deemed the Cthulhu Regio. New Horizons captured this photo from a distance of 50,000 miles.

Pluto Images Natural Color
Pluto and Charon shown in a composite of natural color images. In order to fit Pluto and Charon in the same frame in their correct relative positions, NASA rotate the image so the north poles of both Pluto and Charon are pointing toward the upper left.

Pluto Images False Color
This high-resolution enhanced color view of Pluto was captured by New Horizons on July 14, 2015.

According to NASA, Many landforms have their own distinct colors, telling a complex geological and climatological story that scientists have only just begun to decode.

Pluto Images Mountains Far
Pluto's mountains seen from a farther distance near sunset. The scene captured here is around 780 miles wide.

Pluto Images Mountains Plains
The rugged, icy mountains of Pluto can be seen in this New Horizons photo, taken in July of this year. The image here encapsulates a space approximately 230 miles wide, with the flat expanse on the right informally called the Sputnik Planum. In the left foreground, we see the Norgay Montes mountains and the Hillary Montes closer to the skyline.

Pluto Images Geology
From NASA: "The image includes dark, ancient heavily cratered terrain; bright, smooth geologically young terrain; assembled masses of mountains; and an enigmatic field of dark, aligned ridges that resemble dunes; its origin is under debate. The smallest visible features are 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) in size."

Pluto Images Tartarus Dorsa
The ridges and reddish material that compose the Tartarus Dorsa mountains seen in this photo puzzle NASA scientists. The view presented here is approximately 330 miles across, according to NASA.

Pluto Images Fog
The sunset reveals a fog blanketing Pluto. This image, taken by New Horizons this July, was taken from a distance of 11,000 miles, and the width covered is 110 miles.

Below, watch a July 2015 talk by the New Horizons team regarding their findings — and don't forget to check out these space facts which prove life on Earth is boring:

All images come from NASA.

Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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Cox, Savannah. "Our Favorite Images Of Pluto — So Far." AllThatsInteresting.com, October 17, 2015, https://allthatsinteresting.com/pluto-pictures. Accessed May 25, 2024.